Real-life couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s relationship is the basis of the Judd Apatow-produced rom-com The Big Sick.
Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon didn’t just co-write the script for The Big Sick – they put their own painful-funny real-life romance up there on the screen for the world to dissect.
While Nanjiani plays himself, the couple cast Zoe Kazan to play Emily on the big screen with Hollywood heavyweights Ray Romano and Holly Hunter enlisted to play her screen parents.
Produced by Judd Apatow, the resultant dramedy melted hearts at this year’s Sundance, followed by rave reviews and even Oscar talk.
STACK met with the adorable real-life couple at this year’s CinemaCon where they finished one another’s sentences. “It’s the true story of the first year of our relationship. It’s your basic boy meets girl. . .” begins Gordon as Nanjiani adds, “Boy keeps girl secret from his family because he’s supposed to get an arranged marriage”.
Gordon: “Boy and girl break-up and girl gets really sick and has to be put into a coma.”
Nanjiani: “Boy has to call girl’s parents and then hang out with them while girl is hospitalized. And it’s a comedy. It really is.”
If this sounds heavy, Gordon swears there are plenty of moments of levity. “It’s got a lot of romantic stuff and then some intense scenes but it’s really a movie about love and families and how funny and ridiculous and amazing life can be.”
“This is the best movie you will see about a Pakistani stand-up comedian and a girl in a coma – that is coming out this year,” promises Nanjiani, who also enjoyed small roles in Sex Tape, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Fist Fight.
“It’s a movie that will make you feel good when you leave the cinema and make you wonder what happened after the credits roll,” says Gordon who began her career as a couples and family therapist before quitting her day job to produce and book her husband’s live stand-up show, The Meltdown.
“But now that we’re married, my wife is a walking, talking spoiler alert,” quips Nanjiani. “So it’s a happy ending! Don’t let the coma scare you – cause she wakes up and it’s all good. It’s a family movie – even if we do say ‘f-ck’ a few times – but it’s a Judd Apatow movie so he has a quota to meet.”
The couple worked on their script for three years with Apatow. “He was always challenging us to get to the messy truth of every scene – and then make it hilarious,” recalls Gordon. “He was like: Nothing about a coma is funny, so the challenge is: Can you make it funny?”
“But I think we did it,” says Nanjiani. “Now we call it a rom-coma-dy.”
Playfully engaging in a spat about who had it worse during Gordon’s coma, Nanjiani insists it was tougher on him. “It was much harder for me because you were f-cking asleep.”
“We’re married. It’s cool. He’s allowed to say stuff like that,” his wife grins.
The Big Sick is in cinemas on Aug 3